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"Belt and Road" Cooperation Boosts Argentinean Railway Upgrading

Release time:2018-01-17 Article source:新华社 Reading times: A+AA-

Rosario, Jan.16 (Xinhua): “Belt and Road” Cooperation Boosts Argentinean Railway Upgrading

By Ni Ruijie

As an important grain-producing area of Argentina, Rosario is known as “breadbasket of the world”. The agricultural products like soybean and wheat are of high quality and sold worldwide. However, the grain export of Rosario is severely restricted by the outdated railway system of the country, and has become a headache for local development.

Rosario is about 300km away from the Port of Buenos Aires. The geographical proximity of the grain-producing area to the port is considered one of the key advantages for local grain export. Nevertheless, Rosario’s freight railway system equipments are outmoded, and the average speed of the trains is merely about 30km per hour and the accidents occur frequently. Therefore, many companies have to choose road transportation that has a higher cost, causing the loss of price advantage of Argentinean grains, which are purchased at a lower price, in international trade competitions.

Maximilian Luhan is a freight train driver on the San Martin Line passing by Rosario and commutes between Rosario and Buenos Aires. “There was no any change of Argentinean railways over the past decade, but my work has begun to change over the recent half year,” Luhan said.

The “change” Lu mentioned refers to the freight train jointly developed by China Machinery Engineering Corporation (CMEC) and CRRC. “Speed is the most visible change, the new train has an operating speed of 70km per hour, the driver’s operating environment has been improved significantly, and the comfortable equipments and hot/cold dual-use air-conditioners of the new train are much better than the conditions of outmoded locomotives. Most importantly, the introduction of electronic devices has enhanced the functions of communications and monitoring, and the safety factor of railway transportation has been significantly raised,” Luhan said.

“The transport cost of the San Martin Line has been reduced by 40% since the introduction of the China-made trains, and those lost customers turned to railway transport again.” He added.

The Argentine government has set out an ambitious “Railway Revitalization Plan”, with an aim to transform and upgrade the huge transport system of the country. Propelled by the “Belt and Road” initiative, Chinese railway equipment manufacturing and infrastructure construction companies have sped up to enter the Argentinean market and met the local needs.

According to agreement between the two countries, Argentina will purchase 107 locomotives and 3,500 carriages from China for the San Martin Line and Belgrano Norte Line. When Argentinean President Mauricio Macri attended the “Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation” (BRF) and paid a state visit to China, the Argentinean Ministry of Transport and China Railway Construction Corporation Limited signed the Agreement on the San Martin Line Renovation Project. According to the agreement, the project involves construction of 120 bridges, a signal system for the 1,600km-long railway line and 400 grade crossings, besides the renovation of the 1,626km-long railway line.

As railway projects progress, “Belt and Road” projects are launched in Latin America on after another, driving the local development for mutual benefits and win-win outcome. The Argentina Belgrano freight railway renovation project is an epitome of the cooperation between China and Latin American countries under the framework of “Belt and Road”.

Edgardo Manavella, Head of Regional Production of the San Martin Line, said that the Chinese trains for the San Martin Line and Belgrano Norte Line epitomize the cooperation between China and Latin American countries. The “Belt and Road” initiative has accelerated the cooperation between China and Latin American countries, improved the infrastructure construction, created job opportunities for local people and promoted local economic development.

He hoped that China and Latin American countries fully leverage the “Belt and Road” initiative, strengthen cooperation, achieve mutual benefits and make win-win results, and recommended the Argentina to upgrade its railway network and strengthen its transport capability by making use of China’s strong ability of infrastructure construction, so as to sell more grains by rail to the international market.